The 3 main benefits of running and how to make time for it

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Running. The dreaded ‘R’ word. Whilst it is annoying seeing runners in the park effortlessly speed past you without panting like a dog. It is most definitely daunting when you are just starting out. Sometimes you just need to remember that

  1. You have only just started
  2. Everyone is different.

I have recently started running again. I started this time last year and the year before that. And the year before that. The times before I focussed on my fitness from a pure health point of view. The need to lose weight.

I always struggle to keep my momentum going. A simple cold can put me off track for weeks at a time. Every week not running, it just gets harder to start again.

The thing to remember about fitness is, once you stop; it is so much harder to get back into the routine. You lose the level of fitness you had so quickly, and fighting to get it back feels pointless.

Whilst most people focus on the benefits of running from a view point of trying to lose weight, there are other important reasons as to why you should start.

1. Strengthen bones

It actually helps you to develop stronger bones. This works because running in itself  is a high impact sport, like HIIT. With healthy people, bones actually respond to stress. It responds by reforming itself to better handle further stress.

For runners, that means the weight-bearing bones of the legs, pelvis and spine tend to be stronger than the same bones in inactive people.

2. Improves mental health

I find with running that my mood increases massively afterwards. At the time it might feel like torture but once I’m back home and showered I can feel the benefits. It most certainly helps during my period.

Finding the two weeks before an emotional rollercoaster, a couple of runs a week help to balance out my emotions and keep calm as well as focussed.

See our recent article on how to work with a period for more tips.

3. Strengthens your Muscles

Running helps with our muscles, the repeated rhythm of movement, help us to lose fat and condition our muscles in preparation of making running less painful! Whilst you may not enjoy your runs at first.

However, as you lose weight this will help running to be easier and most definitely tone your muscles, and I mean, all your muscles. Legs, thighs, bum and back as well as your core.

Running is the dream exercise, not only is it free but has a range of benefits to help you get fit and healthy for the years to come.

How to get started

Just go

Starting running is probably the hardest thing to do once you have decided to go. That motivation to go before or after work is probably lacking. What most don’t realise is that just by going no matter how fast you go or how far you run. Just going is better for you than not going at all. Mentally, taking the step to just go is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Start small

You know you see those people running the same route as you? And then lapping you? Annoying isn’t it? The best thing to do is try to stay in your routine. Try not to increase your speed to match someone who is clearly far faster than you and who has a higher fitness level.

So start small, find a pace which, works for you. Something that is conversational. What I mean by this is, if you ran with friends you can have a chat with them whilst jogging. This will keep you within the right heart rate zone and not tire you out instantly.

Incentives

Sometimes you just need to look good whilst sweating your ass off. Depending on your budget that may not be right away. However, you could say that the next time I reach a personal best, I will invest in a new running jacket. Maybe a few months in you decide to invest in decent running trainers instead of those slightly worn and holey trainers from the last New Years’ eve promise.

That investment in gear maybe one way to motivate you to step out the door. However, for some it is no good. So, another way to motivate yourself is join a running club. Now this may sound daunting, even scary. The thoughts of why I would want to embarrass myself in front of a group of strangers coming in last on the run. The thing to remember is… they all started there. They had to. No one is born an amazing runner with lungs who can run until they drop. So, take in the company and the group pressure of having to turn up and join in. This form of social running maybe the way forward.

Route

Finding a nice route is always a challenge, and you may find it takes a few attempts to find that one which you enjoy more than another. Whilst so people may just enjoy running and finding a route ad hoc. However, there are a couple of options for people who want to know where they are going and how far before they set off.

Apps. Some apps are worth downloading. For various reasons, tracking progress, joint motivation from friends who all use the app. As well as fellow users running routes that have been shared on the software which you can access.

An app like this would be ‘Strava’. With the ability to make comments on people runs and give them kudos for motivation. This app is a good way to track your progress and compare previous sets.

Park Runs. Park runs are free events which occur across the UK. Set to a distance of 5k, a park run in your local area is a good way to sign up to the organisation and get a time for the 5k. You get an email post 5k run with the data of everyone who run (all anonymous) just the average of times in your age group. When you get more confident and complete the course quickly, there is nothing stopping you running the route twice= 10k.

Set goals

Sometimes goals help people to progress. This can either be I need to get my time down for this set distance. For others it could be, just to go out. Whether you run, jog or walk is an achievement. Whatever goal you set; it just needs to be attainable.

Change your mindset with Selfish Darling’s Gratitude Journal

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